The 19 Best Beauty Tricks I’ve Learned After 10 Years as a Beauty Editor
Beauty has changed a lot since I started working in the industry back in 2007. If you can remember 2007, that was the year that the iPhone debuted—when the selfie was but a twinkle in your first smartphone’s screen—and Britney Spears shaved her head. In a decade of playing with products, testing tools, and interviewing countless makeup artists, hair colorists, hairstylists, nail artists, dermatologists, and estheticians, I’ve seen many a beauty trend come and go. But I’ve also amassed a goldmine of expert tips and tricks that stand the test of time and have forever altered the way I care for my hair and skin. I could seriously go on forever, but these are without a doubt the 19 best pieces of beauty wisdom I have learned in my years in the biz.
1. Keep your eye cream and nail polish in the fridge.
The reason some eye creams are sold in tubes with metal tips is that the metal helps deflate puffy areas by cooling the skin, which theoretically constricts blood vessels. But you can get the same exact effect by just stashing any old eye cream in the refrigerator. During the summer, I do this with my can’t-live-without-it Yes To Coconuts Ultra Hydrating Overnight Eye Balm ($16, ulta.com), but it works with any formula. The fridge is also a great place to stash nail polish, as it keeps it from thickening over time.
2. Always layer your skin-care products from thinnest to thickest texture.
If you think about your skin as if it were a sponge, you want it to soak up all the good stuff you’re applying to your face and body. Therefore, it’s important to layer properly. Use the thinner, more watery products first in your skin routine and finish with the heaviest creams or oils. Oils help seal in any products applied prior. So if you’re starting with an oil and then adding a lighter hyaluronic acid serum on top, you’re not going to see those amazing HA benefits.
3. You can curl your entire head with an iron in under two minutes flat.
This is the one trick that has saved me the most time over the years. Splitting my hair into one-inch sections and then rolling over each with the curling iron used to take me 30 minutes, but I have cut styling time to a mere two minutes with this hack I learned from Pinterest. After blow-drying hair straight or letting it air-dry, throw it into a high ponytail atop your head and split into four even sections. Roll the wand around each, set with some texturizing spray, then shake out after hair is cool—like after your morning commute. I like an easy-to-use curler like the Eva NYC 25mm Tourmaline Clipless Curling Wand ($60, target.com).
4. Never underestimate the power of a bold lipstick.
I can’t tell you how many makeup artists have told me lipstick would be their “desert island” beauty product pick. Before I began my career, I was a mascara diehard. Now, not so much. Turns out a lipstick, especially something bold (I love a hot magenta or coral in the summer; a classic red in the winter) can also be dotted onto the apples of cheeks and the lids of eyes for a monochromatic look you can pull together in two seconds flat. I regularly do this with whatever lipstick I have on hand. (If you’re a bit gun-shy at the idea of a one-color-fits-all look, try a lipstick close to your lip color for a neutral effect.) My go-to is Tom Ford Lips & Boys in Thomas ($36, sephora.com).
5. Don’t touch your face unless you have to. Your hands are GRUBBY.
And hand sanitizer totally doesn’t count—at all. As someone who is oddly scared of others touching my face, perhaps I take this tip a bit too seriously. But your hands are REALLY dirty. Anytime you’re just cradling your chin in thought, putting your hand to your cheek or the like, you’re actually leaving germs behind, and creating a potential zit minefield.
6. Setting spray is actually life.
Makeup primer is the natural go-to product to prep your skin for long-wearing makeup application, while also helping seal in your skin-care routine. But what’s even better is setting spray. After you finish your makeup, just a few choice spritzes will keep everything in place. Try one with added benefits, like Urban Decay Chill Makeup Setting Spray ($31, sephora.com), which cools and hydrates skin, or CoverFX Illuminating Setting Spray ($31, sephora.com), which gives dull complexions an ethereal glow.
7. Don’t double or triple process your hair like I have.
I have made a trillion hair mistakes in my almost 33 years. I was born with light blonde hair that turned green every summer because I loved to swim. By the time I was a teen, it had gotten darker and curlier—the latter of which was extremely distressing in the 1990s when everyone’s hair was stick straight and mine had a Jewish frizz pattern that even the toughest of stylists had problems taming. So I started getting highlights at far too young of an age (15, fine, I’ll tell you). By the time I was 17, the Japanese straightening process had rolled around. And I did that, too.
You know what happened? My hair all but broke off. I had pieces of various lengths and textures. But I didn’t learn my lesson, and probably never will, because today, I highlight my naturally dark blonde hair to a pretty bombshell hue and get keratin treatments. But that’s because I’m beyond repair. Treat your hair well. Be kind to it.
8. Use a gel-like topcoat on every single manicure.
I’ve had manicurists look at me strangely for toting a gel-like topcoat everywhere I go. Even if you’re using a regular nail polish, use one of the topcoats designed for gel-like results without the UV light, like Essie Gel-Setter Topcoat ($10, target.com). It gives any regular polish a hard, clear lacquered coating, and if you refresh it every other day, your mani will last twice as long.
Oily skin isn’t something you can fix—it’s just something you have to manage. And rather than stripping oily skin entirely or using a super lightweight lotion, turns out the best way to moisturize oily skin is with face oil. The key is to find the oil that suits your own skin type or complexion issues. For example, grapeseed oil is lightweight and full of antioxidants, making it ideal for pre-sunscreen hydration. Other oils, like tea tree, can actually fight sebum buildup, bacteria, and inflammation. Some oils even have acne-fighting properties, like Sunday Riley U.F.O. Ultra-Clarifying Face Oil ($80, sephora.com), which has earned a permanent spot in my medicine cabinet.
10. Don’t ever leave home without a Beautyblender.
This must-know tip relates to your grubby hands, too. Remember how I told you to not touch your face? Same goes for when you apply makeup and skin-care, which I know seems like a lot of work. All you need is one magical tool: the Beautyblender. The OG miracle pink sponge seamlessly blends face creams, foundations, eyeshadows, blush—pretty much any thing you can think of. The key is to dampen the sponge prior to use, but bonus points if you use something soothing, like anti-inflammatory rose water. I keep both a Beautyblender ($20, beautyblender.com) and Glossier Soothing Face Mist ($18, glossier.com) with me at all times for that specific purpose.
11. Coat your hair in conditioner before a swim at the beach or the pool.
If you’ve ever gone to a public pool, chances are you may have been asked to hop under the showerhead first, to rinse off any excess dirt. While you’re there, give strands a fighting chance against damaging chlorine or saltwater by coating them with a sulfate-free deep conditioner, like L’Oreal Paris Advanced Haircare Total Repair 5 Damage-Erasing Balm ($5.99, target.com). The conditioner helps to fill holes (read: damage) in the hair cuticle, preventing any further breakage from forming.
12. Purple shampoo saves blonde lives.
As a lifelong blonde with only a brief flirtation with the relative dark side (a dark, dark dirty blonde), there’s been nothing more helpful than maintaining my bright blonde and avoiding orange brassiness than a high-quality purple shampoo. If you wanna splurge, Oribe Bright Blonde Shampoo ($46, oribe.com) is literally the greatest smelling shampoo on earth, but you can get the same effect for a fraction of the cost with Clairol Shimmer Lights ($8, sallybeauty.com). Purple shampoo neutralizes orange deposits, helping eliminate brassiness or that bad-dye-job look.
13. Wiggle your mascara wand horizontally through your lashes to create definition and separation.
While this may seem counterintuitive if you’re looking to lengthen your lashes, the only way you’re gonna really get clump-free coatings is with this badass makeup-artist trick. I’m pretty sure I learned this in one of my very first interviews, but it’s the only way I’ll actually wear mascara now. By simply wiggling the wand back and forth, slowly working your way up, your eyelashes get coated with just enough formula to define, lengthen, and volumize without it looking like you’re an extra from the new Spiderman.
14. A few drops of essential oil on the shower floor—plus a few minutes to let the steam really develop—makes for a spa-like experience.
This is probably my oldest trick in the book. Thank you, Lisa Hoffman (yes, the wife of Dustin!), for this wonderful tip, which I regularly use to this day. Because I’m all about that #selfcare life, I like to make my showers as experiential as possible. Sometimes I’ll do a specific shower meditation or smudge the bathroom in sage to get rid of negative energies before hopping in, but the one consistent is that I’ll always let the shower run for a few minutes after I’ve dropped a bit of whatever essential oil I’m feeling that day to create a spa-like steam shower. When I’m half asleep, I’ll reach for an energizing oil or two, like lemongrass or eucalyptus, but if I’m about to hit the pillow, I’ll usually do something more meditative and calming, like lavender or frankincense. Regardless of the oil you choose, take a few deep breaths, use caution to avoid slipping, and chill the hell out.
15. Go for a microfiber hair towel—and never flip your head over post-shower.
Guilty as charged. For most of my life, after showering I’d flip my head over, shake out some excess water, and tie it up with a terrycloth towel. This routine no doubt contributed to all the aforementioned hair damage. But once I discovered the slew of towels designed for hair specifically, like the Aquis Lisse Luxe Long Hair Towel ($35, aquis.com), I realized how much LESS damage I would cause if I didn’t flip or overly twist fragile, wet strands. Instead, these towels gently sop up excess moisture after I carefully blot a freshly washed head of hair before applying a styling product.
16. Lip balm is the most versatile product you can have on you.
You can moisturize cuticles, fix frizzy spots or cowlicks, or add a bit of glossiness to your eyelids.
I only say this because I tried it all in a moment of desperation long before I even knew you could be a beauty editor for a LIVING. As a sophomore in high school I wasn’t exactly toting around my now-impeccably curated on-the-go beauty bag, complete with a teensy flatiron and product minis. So when pieces of hair stuck out, I turned to my little tube of Aquaphor ($4, target.com). Even if I was a bit too heavy handed when I was younger, I was able to tuck away my edges that made me self conscious. I also discovered, a bit later in life, that my hero tube is equally as effective to use on my lids and lashes in a pinch, giving me that dewy, I’m-made-up-but-not look that I love so much.
17. Don’t ever skip that post-workout shower.
Body acne is real. The easiest way to wind up with a few whiteheads on your chest or a cystic zit on your upper back is to not shower after a workout. One dermatologist swore to me that using a body-cleansing wipe, like Yuni Shower Sheets ($15, yunibeauty.com), is a great stop-gap, but if you’ve still got your sweaty clothes on it’s kind of a moot move. The best thing you can do is actually shower, obviously—but if not, grab a cleansing wipe or two plus a fresh set of dry clothes to keep skin blemish-free.
18. SPF is the best anti-aging tool you can own.
I could wax poetic about how important it is to slather on sunscreen before you step outside even on the cloudiest of days. By protecting skin from UVA and UVB rays, a broad-spectrum sunscreen protects skin from wrinkles and dark age spots (not to mention skin cancer). And if you’re worried about SPF breaking you out, just make sure to look for a face-specific SPF that has a “non-comedogenic” label on the tube, which means it won’t clog your pores. I’m really into Pacifica Mineral Face Shade Coconut Probiotic SPF 30 ($13, target.com), which is vegan and cruelty-free, too.
19. Love dry shampoo? You’ll love it even more if you use it before you hit the pillow.
A good spritz of dry shampoo can work wonders to help you stretch out your last hair washing, but I’ve found a genius way to do more than your average emergency oil mop-up before heading to work. I’ve found it to be FAR more effective if I work in some dry shampoo, like Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Biotin Dry Shampoo ($24, sephora.com), and tie my hair up in a loose bun before hitting the sack. It really gives the dry shampoo time to work its magic—absorbing the oils in my scalp, giving my thin hair a bit of volume—and also avoids the dreaded powdered part that’s the dead giveaway you haven’t washed your hair in a while.
You might also like: The 10 Best-Selling Beauty Products from CVS